The day of Ghadeer is celebrated all around the world today, and is known as the day of the announcement of the divine plan of Imamah.
One would come to the question that if this was such an important announcement why was it left until just two months before the demise of the Holy Prophet (S)? Surely such an important part of the religion must have been clear throughout the prophetic mission?
The truth is that there is a vast amount of answers available, but these answers are all scattered throughout the history books. They need to be brought together so one may have a clear, chronological and vivid view of the truth of this part of history of Islam.
First, we must pat attention that the day of Ghadeer is not the day of the announcement of Imamah. That historic event took place decades prior to Ghadeer in what is known as ‘’Yowm Al-Dar’’ when the following verse of revelation descended on the Prophet (S):
“And warn thy tribe *(Oh Muhammad (S)) of nearest kin” 26:214
It is reported that the Prophet (S) then called his relatives of Bani Hashim and asked them: who will be my brother, my trustee and the caliph after me? Everyone in the gathering remained silent except the very young Imam Ali (a). ‘I’ he replied. The Prophet (S) asked for the second time, and again they were all silent except Ali (a). The third and final time the Prophet (S) asked, the Imam replied once again, ‘I’. ‘You,’ said RasoolAllah (s). For the record, this is not an exclusive Shia Hadith, it is available in Shia books and Sunni books too.(1)
Therefore, the announcement of qaliphate of the Prophet took place in Mecca, before the Hijra to Medina and Ghadir day.
Second,Let us observe the words of Muawiya in a reply letter to Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, who was the governor of Egypt at the time. Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr sent Muawiya a letter telling him that the caliphate is not for him and Ali (a) is the rightful caliph, so Muawiya replies: We know the right of Ali upon us in the days of the Prophet (s), and he was like the stars in the sky that could not be reached…”
Yes, you can check again to read who wrote this. Imam Ali’s (a) enemy, Muawiya son of Abi Sufyan. He describes the Imam (a) as the star that could not be reached at the time of the Prophet (s). Read in between the lines and you’ll begin to notice how the Imam’s status throughout the prophetic message was aligned right beside the Prophet (s). When the people of Quraysh were gathered in the mosque and Imam Ali (a) would walk in, the people would stand up in respect due to his status.
Another event was on the day when the Prophet (S) and Abu Bakr reached the town of Qibba before the first ever entry into Medina. Qibba was 7km outside of Medina, and the Prophet (s) stopped there to wait. Abu Bakr insist for going in, but the Prophet (s) said that he will not go in until my brother, Ali (a), comes. The Imam was late because he stayed in the Prophet’s (s) bed as a decoy to save the Prophet’s (s) life from the people of Mecca. He was on his way now to join the Prophet (s) at Qibba so they may enter Medina together. Abu Bakr insisted repeatedly for the Prophet (s) to go in, but the Prophet (s) refused each time until Abu Bakr left and entered Medina on his own. The entry into Medina would go down as one of the greatest and most historical events in Islam. It was the sunrise of Islam, its introduction to the world outside of Mecca. A very special day. The people of Medina are all waiting for the Prophet (s),and it was bound to be an iconic entry and whoever enters with the Prophet (s) will be seen as the second man in Islam, so the Prophet (s) would not enter without Ali (a). When Imam Ali (a) arrived, then they said their prayers and set off to enter Medina. As the Prophet (s) rode in, behind him rode Ali (a). The Prophet (s) was so careful in portraying that the imam after him would be Ali (a).
On the day of Ghadeer, the gathering of the greatest number of Muslims in one place and in one time occurred. Nothing like that had ever happened in the history of Islam. Since Adam built the foundations of the Kaaba, never did that many people assemble around it. The lifting of Imam Ali’s (a) arm in Ghadir was a reaffirmation, not the announcement. The day of the dar was the announcement, and you know what, it was reaffirmed tens of times. For instance Khalid ibn Usayd ibn Alass even confronted the first Caliph and told him ‘how can we pledge allegiance to you if we already pledged allegiance to Ali (a) at Bani Qurayda?’
therefore, the day of Ghadeer wasn’t an announcement; it was a reaffirmation of something so often referred to throughout the Prophet’s (S) life.
If we are to take all these stories we can come to other conclusions as well. We would come to the conclusion that there is no comparison between Imam Ali with any one of Sahabbeh.
Imam Ali (a) is the second man in the Islamic nation, he was the one who was always by Prophet’s (S) side ,the leader of the security operations, the personal bodyguard of the Prophet (S), and his flag bearer.
He was the trustee of Muhammad (P.B.U.H&H.F),and the student of the Prophet (s) and was raised by him. this Imam Ali (a) is the one in charge of Islam after the Prophet (s).(2)
(1)Ehqaq Alhaq, vol. 4, p.62. Mosnad Ahmad Hanbal, vol. 1 ,p. 111 . Behar Alanvar, vol.38, p.251
(2)This article was first published in aimislam site but now rewrote and edited by Ghadirestan.